He Brawled With Sinatra in 'Manchurian Candidate'

Character actor Henry Silva, last surviving star of original 'Ocean's 11,' dies at 95
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2022 7:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – He tried to take down Frank Sinatra's character in The Manchurian Candidate and was the last surviving star of the original Ocean's 11. Now, a goodbye for Henry Silva, a character actor known for his villainous turns on the silver screen. Silva's son, Scott Silva, confirmed the actor's death Wednesday at the age of 95 to Variety and the New York Times, adding that his father died of natural causes at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. The Times notes the older Silva "specialized in menace," "forever cast as a thug, a hit man, or some other nefarious character" over his five-decade career. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Silva quit school as a young teen living in Spanish Harlem, earned a living as a dishwasher and waiter, and started taking acting classes.

His first TV appearance was on 1950's Armstrong Circle Theatre, and he first showed up on the big screen (uncredited) in 1952's Viva Zapata!, with Marlon Brando. Among his more notable roles, Silva played a drug supplier in 1957's A Hatful of Rain (a part he'd also played on Broadway), the title character in 1963's Johnny Cool, and an assassin in 1981's Sharky's Machine, with Burt Reynolds. He was perhaps best known, however, for his role as one of the 11 thieves in Lewis Milestone's 1960 heist film, Ocean's 11, appearing alongside Rat Pack stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford, as well as for his portrayal of Chunjin, a Korean houseboy who grapples with Sinatra in a famous fight scene in 1962's The Manchurian Candidate.

Silva's final role was a cameo in Steven Soderbergh's 2001 remake of Ocean's 11. The actor of Puerto Rican heritage racked up nearly 150 credits in films and TV, partly thanks to a face he once said allowed for "great diversification," per the Washington Post. "I could play almost everything but a Swede—and I'm working on that," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1963. Deana Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, paid tribute to Silva on Friday, showing an old photo of her dad with his former co-star. "Our hearts are broken at the loss of our dear friend Henry Silva, one of the nicest, kindest and most talented men I've had the pleasure of calling my friend," she wrote on Twitter. "We love you Henry, you will be missed." Silva, who was married and divorced three times, is survived by Scott and another son, Michael. (Read more celebrity death stories.)

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